How to Manage Your Child's Temper — Before It Flares
Children benefit from learning to wait for rewards and letting go of desires that are not reasonable or healthy. This is especially difficult — and important — for kids with ADHD.
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2 Comments: How to Manage Your Child's Temper — Before It Flares
I wish I had a magic quick fix to offer – but sadly, that is not the case. Improvement is possible though, with two ingredients: consistency and time. When I speak of the “time” part of the equation, it is highly unlikely that the time required will be measured in days or weeks – and probably not even in months. With one of my children, it took at least 2 years to begin to see improvement – and 3 to 4 years to see any real change in the behavior.
Maintaining consistency for that length of time can be a daunting task to say the least. However, the importance of that particular lesson makes it worth the effort. Being able to accept “No”, without going to pieces is an essential life skill. I can’t imagine anyone trying to navigate through adulthood with every disappointment certain to send them spiraling into an abyss.
So this is the method: the minute a child whines, begs, or throws a tantrum, any reward is totally off the table. When my son was very small (2-3 years), I would just pick him up and leave – whether we were in a store, at the park, at a friend’s house, or whatever, the fun was over and we left. If I needed to shop, I did it later without him.
As he got older, I was able to explain my policy: “If you whine, beg, or tantrum, I PROMISE YOU that you will not get the item you are wanting.” I told him that if I gave in, it would teach him to throw tantrums – and I was not willing to do that. I explained that even if I were ready to grab that toy and put in in the cart, a tantrum from him, would make me return it to the shelf immediately. Let me assure you that he often cried and wailed, “No Mommy, it WON’T teach me to throw a tantrum!” But I just reminded him that I had promised – and that was one promise I considered sacred.
It was a long road – and there were times that I thought the emotional breakdowns would never end. But eventually, he learned to rein in his emotions when disappointed – at least outwardly – because he knew for certain, that whining and begging meant that he would most definitely not get the object of his desire.
So dig in your heels and hold tight to your resolve. The battle can be won; and it is worth it. Because eventually, you have raised an adult who is better equipped to deal with the realities of life.
This is exactly one of our biggest challenges. It’s getting better (no need for a special adult to go out and get her from recess), but it continues to be a challenge. Some days/situations there’s more flexibility than others. Looking for more insight and wisdom on this issue. If only I could stand in her shoes, I might have better understanding. She sometimes calms herself-reading is a big one. We’ve talked about strategies but she says talking about the fun thing she is missing only makes it worse.
Would love to hear other parents’ experiences.